DJI's long awaited 3D augmented/virtual reality (VR) goggles ($449 USD) are finally available to eager drone hobbyists. For those unaccustomed with the technology, 3D virtual reality goggles, also referred to in the drone industry as FPV (First-Person-View) goggles, offer a real-time, dynamic, and immersive bird's eye view from the drone's camera, giving the pilot an "I'm flying" impression and feeling. If you've been into drone flying for some time, however, you'll agree that 3D Virtual Reality/FPV goggles are nothing new. If anything, DJI is only catching up with existing models of 3D VR FPV goggles. The question is, what's different about DJI's 3D FPV goggles, or what makes them special, if anything.
What Doesn't Cut it for DJI
Firstly, when it comes to consumer drone technology, one must keep in mind that DJI is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to drone technology. The added pressure of being "king of the mountain" in the drone industry tends to elevate expectations from its customer base. Worded differently, DJI shouldn't be held to anything else but the highest standard it terms of quality and innovation in the drone industry.
With the above in mind, terms like "ultra-light quality screens", "ergonomic design", "comfortable goggles", "immersive experience", "comfortable and flexible", "reliable connection", or "long range" are all necessary but common place, and fall short of what consumers should expect from DJI. A user-friendly, side panel that allows you to choose and confirm your menu options? Yawn. What about the head tracking function, a feature whereby your head movements control both the drone's yaw and camera tilt when in "Head Tracking Flight mode"? While certainly a very exciting, innovative feature, this has also already been on the market for some time, and offers nothing innovative the drone industry or drone hobbyists. In that sense, a head tracking function is a feature that one would expect from a high quality DJI product. While seemingly innovative, the splitting of the viewing area into two separate and distinct viewing areas offers nothing particularly new or innovative.
What Does Cut it for DJI?
On the other hand, larger-than-usual goggle dimensions of 1920 x 1080, combined with specs such as: 720p/60fps at long range or with interference or 1080p/30fps near-field with no interference; 360° angle view coverage; low latency of 110ms; up to 6 hours of entertainment; are not common place. Nor are the wide range of intelligent modes - ActiveTrack, TapFly, Terrain Follow, Cinematic Mode, or Tripod mode. While head tracking may not be new or innovative, the same cannot be said about controlling a drone's gimbal with head movements, independently from the drone. Similarly, splitting the goggle into two separate and distinct viewing areas offers nothing innovative, unless the resulting 1920 x 1080 screens offer double the amount of pixels than a single screen, as is the case with DJI's FPV goggles. This accomplished by using a "beam splitter", which displays an distinct image in front of each individual eye, as well as polarization to prevent image overlap for full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution in each eye. Another fun and unique feature about DJI's 3D VR/FPV goggles are its headband-style design that allows you to flip up, or even detach the screen portion of the FPV goggles.
Bottom Line with DJI's 3D VR/FPV Goggles?
DJI has been behind the times when it comes to 3D VR/FPV drone goggles. Until their recent release, DJI drone users were forced to use 3D VR/FPV goggles from other manufacturers. In that sense, much of what has come out of DJI's new 3D VR/FPV goggles is simply catching up to the market. In that sense, as the leader of consumer drone technology, a lot of what has come out of DJI's 3D VR/FPV offers nothing that is particularly new or innovative to the drone industry. What it has managed to bring to the consumer drone industry (and with this sense DJI continues to live up to its reputation), is a product that exhumes high quality in the finer details, namely, the image quality projected through its 3D VR/FPV goggles, and the overall result of a sensational and immersive in-flight augmented reality experience.